Staff Expertise in the Networked, Digital Environment


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  • Spent long time thinking about these artifacts.
  • Hit libraries first
  • When dealing with physical artifacts in the physical world, you have to make hard choices - where to put it, how to use limited space to interpret, etc.
  • someone has to make those choices: chooser, gatekeeper, interpreter
  • downstream flow of knowledge (from PUS)
  • Pendulum swing to wisdom of crowds
  • Pushed to not include our own metadata as tags - devaluing our own expertise while chasing crowd
  • We have models of crowd engagement: wikipedia loves art, flickr commons, tagging left and right; however, where’s the role of the interpreter or curator in this?
  • Digitization means more than imaging
  • NEH grant example
  • Unexpected opportunities
  • Neither of these is new under the sun; we had indices, and we had published literature. The difference is in scale and volume.
  • While we’re working on the hard problems of digitization, interoperability and collaboration, I want to propose a simple hack that can make our special collections much more visible through both search and conversation.
  • I figured out a good algorithm
    I figured out the best way to roast a chicken
    I figured out the best way to avoid speed traps
  • For close to a year and a half, we’ve had a somewhat stealth effort up at

    Blog as very specific mechanism to get small bits of knowledge into the digital landscape and discoverable.

    Preprocessed reference?
  • Youtube ~ 50% viewed on Youtube, ~40 on D*S, ~10% elsewhere
  • Always some demand for physical; however, digital access is increasingly good enough, and easy digital access will crowd out difficult physical access.
  • Unless we resurrect the limitations of the physical world in the digital collections we’re creating...

    Note: Not that artifacts/collections aren’t important; they are, but just not identified with institution in the digital space.

    The more important resource for the long-term value of a library, museum, archive, etc. is staff expertise.
  • Staff Expertise in the Networked, Digital Environment

    1. 1. Staff Expertise in the Networked, Digital Environment Josh Greenberg Director, Digital Strategy & Scholarship The New York Public Library @epistemographer
    2. 2. Artifacts
    3. 3. Text vs Artifact
    4. 4. Digital: 1. decoupling of text from artifact 2. decoupling of artifact from single physical context
    5. 5. The Library Problem
    6. 6. The Library Dilemma
    7. 7. The Library Dilemma
    8. 8. Traditional model: curator as authority
    9. 9. From one-to-one to one-to-many
    10. 10. 2.0!
    11. 11. OMG!
    13. 13. Professional vs. Amateur mac vs. pc
    14. 14. Danger
    15. 15. Throwing out baby (knowledge) with bathwater (“oppressive” one-way flow)
    16. 16. Need to define next paradigm
    17. 17. Balance professional and amateur expertise(s), value both
    18. 18. Gentleman science
    19. 19. Professionalization
    20. 20. Citizen science
    21. 21. Enabling factors:
    22. 22. Digital networks (low cost of connection)
    23. 23. Changing cultural attitudes toward expertise
    24. 24. Can citizen science map onto the humanities? Onto the arts?
    25. 25. Example #1: maps at NYPL
    26. 26. scale of problem
    27. 27. How?
    28. 28. answer: deputize
    29. 29. first example: students in Map Division
    30. 30. role of curator: community organizer
    31. 31. example #2: curatorial voice in “vernacular media”
    32. 32. They’re no longer going to come to us first
    33. 33. Digital discovery currently happens in two ways:
    34. 34. Conversation
    35. 35. Goal: Grow Awareness and Use
    36. 36. Strategy: Talk about ourselves.
    37. 37. Strategy: Talk about ourselves. A lot.
    38. 38. Writing: 2 birds, one stone
    39. 39. “Writing for Google”
    40. 40. “Writing for Google” + “Writing for referral”
    41. 41. “Writing for Google” + “Writing for retweeting”
    42. 42. Blogs
    43. 43. Curatorial expertise + social media = viral
    44. 44. Example #3: New relationships with the “world outside”
    45. 45. ultimately about inspiring learning, advancing knowledge, and organizing communities of practice
    46. 46. What about those artifacts?
    47. 47. In the eyes of a digitally networked public, the value and identity of a collecting institution derives from service, expertise, and community organization rather than possession of collections